SOIL&WAT 2501 - Spatial Information and Land Evaluation II

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2016

Spatial information is fundamental to decision making in all environmental disciplines. It is widely used in natural sciences areas from agriculture, environmental management to mining industries. The breadth of applications of spatial information is increasing rapidly due to a vastly improved availability of spatial data and the recently accelerated development of geographic information systems and remote sensing tools. The subject introduces theory, history and current methods of spatial information presentation, generation, and analysis. It gives an overview of major Australian and South Australian mapping programs and spatial information in government agencies. Students are introduced to factors that shape the landscape and learn how to interpret land surface features. In field exercises students are introduced to surveying, the use of Global Positioning Systems, field navigation and safety.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code SOIL&WAT 2501
    Course Spatial Information and Land Evaluation II
    Coordinating Unit School of Biological Sciences
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 5 hours per week, plus field trip
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment Practical reports, theory examination, field trip report
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Bertram Ostendorf

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    A succesful student in this course should be able to:
    1 Understand processes that shape earth surfaces;
    2 Use global coordinate systems to determine locations at global and local scales;
    3 Read and topographic maps;
    4 Use computing techniques to handle spatial data;
    5 Use modern online mapping tools with their own spatial data;
    6 Understand the theory of GPS and be able to use GPS to collect spatial data;
    7 Apply advanced data computing skills and GIS methodology to map landscape features.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
  • Learning Resources
    Recommended Resources
    Bourough, P.A., McDonnell,R.A. Principles of Geographic Information Systems (1998)
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course consists of the following:
    • 1 X 2-hour lecture per week
    • 1 X 3-hour practical per week
    • 1 day field trip held in class time

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary

    Lecture Practical
    Week  1 Introduction to maps Topographic map reading, Scales, Distances, Bearing
    Week 2 Quantifying spatial data Practice using Excel, Equations, database functionality, visualisation, pivot tables
    Week 3 Spatial databases and computing aspects of spatial data Basic computer sciences, structures of databases, Introduction to Access, Data entry and visualisation of tabular dat
    Week 4 Introduction to ArcGIS  ArcGIS intro - using own data sourced from the internet
    Week 5 Spatial information sources and data formats GPS outside prac, waypoints, mapping own data, open source spatial data, government data access, spatial data formats: raw data, kml, kmz, gpx and shapefiles
    Week 6 Airphotos – old method, new technologies Merits and Limits, space-time issues, photos vs. maps, Field of View, Parallaxes
    Week 7 Surveying Outside prac, Levelling and Traverses, computer data entry/report preparation
    Week 8 Introduction to remote sensing Introduction to image analysis software, interpretation of satellite images for environmental monitoring
    Week 9 The third dimension: terrain and topography Interpreting and analysing topography from different forms of data
    Week 10 Natural Resource mapping Interpretation of aerial photos for natural resource mapping, preparation for field day
    Week 11 Field Day- Wirra Conservation Park GPS-based mapping, site characterisation and Navigation
    Week 12                                Presentation of Spatial Data Getting the map and field data into the GIS, final report preparation
    Specific Course Requirements
    This course has a one day field trip in class time.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Type of Assessment Percentage of total assessment for grading purposes Hurdle
    Outcomes being  assessed/achieved Due date
    Practical reports Formative & Summative


    No 1-6 Weeks 1-9
    Field Trip reports Formative & Summative 15% No 1-7 Week 12
    Exam Summative 40% No 1-7 Exam period
    Assessment Detail
    Practical reports: (45%)
    There will be 9 practical reports, worth each 5%. These reports cover material in the theoretical lectures and require students to reflect on the learned, conduct exercises under guidance and work out problems that require transfer of knowledge. Practical reports are 1-2 page long with graphical or numerical answers. Only minimal individual feedback is given but the practical is followed up by extensive discussions during the next lecture and practical. Students  ared engaged in group discussions under supervision of lecturers and demonstrators. 

    Field trip report (15%)
    During a period of three weeks, students form groups and prepare the field data collection, conduct the data collection during the field trip, and use their data for a scientific report that includes a GIS visualisation of their own spatial data. Students are required to write a scientific report that includes introduction, their own detailed method of field data collection, presentation including GIS artwork, and conclusion from their own data. Students will also complete an assessment of the relative contributions of group members.

    Exam: (40%)
    The final examination will evaluate theoretical knowledge and the ability to write coherent and concise statements. It is a 3-hour exam.
    Late Submission
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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